European Institute of womens health, Eurohealth health logo

Press release

The European Institute of Women’s Health (EIWH) supports European Cervical Cancer Week Jan 25-31st 2015

The prevention of cervical cancer has the potential to become a major public health success  story. We should be able to lower rates of cervical cancer even further, if best practice in early detection through cancer screening and HPV vaccination programmes, were applied systematically.

Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in women under 44 worldwide.  Cervical cancer remains a serious public health problem in Europe. From the perspective of Europe as a  whole, 60,000 women develop cervical cancer and 30,000 die from it every year, while the number of women living with cervical cancer (being treated or otherwise) at any one point in time in Europe is over 175,000.

In most Europe there has been a steady drop in cervical cancer incidence and mortality over the last decades. However, women in low- and middle-income countries and disadvantaged population groups within a country are not so lucky and a similar reduction has not yet been achieved.

Progress in controlling cervical cancer has important implications for women Europe wide. “99% of cervical cancer cases are caused by persistent infection of certain high risk types of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the world and approximately 50% to 80% of sexually active women contract some form of HPV at least once in their life. Only a small proportion will develop cervical cancer.

Well organised screening programmes have been proven to reduce incidence of cervical cancer by 80% and the HPV vaccine has been proven almost 100% effective in preventing certain types of the virus that cause 70% of all cervical cancer cases. “(IFPA)  Almost all cases of cervical cancer can be prevented by screening and HPV vaccination.

Because  the HPV vaccine does not protect against all cervical cancers. it is still vitally important important for all women to have cervical screening – more commonly known as a smear test.

Preventing Cervical Cancer is within Reach. Today European women have the unique opportunity to benefit from significant advances to tackle cervical cancer through a two-pronged strategy:

Organised population-based screening programmes for the early detection of cervical lesion
HPV vaccination of adolescent girls, prior to first exposure to the Human Papillomavirus (HPV).

Yet, not all women across the EU-27 are benefiting from best practice in cervical cancer
prevention. This cancer remains a major cause of death for women in CEE countries: Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, and the Baltic States. Analysis of cervical cancer data shows that the death rate was highest in Lithuania and lowest in Finland.

Disparity in Cervical Cancer Prevention Costs Women’s Lives. …more

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